Office of Institutional Advancement

James D. & Mary Jo Danella Family Scholarship

James D. and Mary Jo Danella

James D. and Mary Jo Danella

The decision to attend medical school is a big one that means committing to long hours, challenging courses and sleepless nights. The number one reason students hesitate to pursue an MD, however, has nothing to do with workload. It has to do with cost.

Private U.S. medical-school students from the Class of 2014 graduated an average of $200,000 in debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. For many young physicians, paying off their staggering loans takes 15 to 30 years.

As Jefferson reimagines health sciences education with an emphasis on creativity, innovation and the humanities, the university is also prioritizing increased scholarship support for all students. James and Mary Jo Danella are important partners in our ability to meet this goal at Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

The couple, who are friends with and patients of several Jefferson physicians, recently created the James D. and Mary Jo Danella Family Scholarship Fund to support SKMC students—particularly those who show leadership potential through community service with groups like JeffHOPE or participation in the Innovation and Design Application Program, which draws students with “non-traditional pre-med” backgrounds such as architecture, engineering and computer science to foster an “out-of-the-box” approach to healthcare.

Mr. and Mrs. Danella recognize that students with undergraduate degrees in areas other than science face steep hurdles if they want to attend medical school, as candidates are often selected based on science-related grade point averages and Medical College Admission Test scores. The Danellas share Jefferson’s vision of nurturing more empathetic and creative physicians by admitting students with more diverse backgrounds—and their generosity will help us accomplish that. And by reducing the burden of debt these students must bear, the Danella Family Scholarship will enable them to pursue careers in the specialties of their choice, without focusing on compensation.

A special matching opportunity made possible by the Sidney Kimmel Foundation has made the Danellas’ investment go even further. For a limited time, donors who pledge a gift of at least $100,000 to establish a new endowed scholarship fund have their contribution matched dollar for dollar. Mr. and Mrs. Danella committed a remarkable $500,000 to Jefferson, meaning they are actually making a full $1 million in funding available. The Danella Family Scholarship Fund will truly give many students the gift of a lifetime.

Doubles Donors’ Impact

In addition to James and Mary Jo Danella, during fiscal year 2015 several Jefferson friends and alumni made scholarship pledges eligible for the Sidney Kimmel Endowed Scholarship Matching Program:

  • William J. Antognoli, MD ’61 (The William J. Antognoli, MD ’61 Scholarship Fund)
  • Amy Liss (The Liss Scholarship Fund)
  • Louis Vignati, MD ’70 (The Regina K. Branigan Scholarship Fund)
  • John J. Park, MD ’94 (The John J. Park, MD ’94 Scholarship Fund)
  • Alfred P. Spivack, MD ’54 (The Alfred P. Spivack, MD Scholarship Fund)
  • Antoine and Nadia Moukarzel, Lea A. Moukarzel, MD ’14, and Jeffrey F. McMahon, MD ’14 (The Moukarzel Art in Medicine Scholarship Fund)

To honor Karen Moss Glaser, PhD, a 30-year faculty member and Sidney Kimmel Medical College’s senior associate dean for academic affairs who died suddenly in November 2014, multiple colleagues and loved ones created the Karen Moss Glaser Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will also be matched.

The generous contributions of these fiscal year 2015 scholarship donors has resulted in an extra $1,325,000 in available scholarship funding for Sidney Kimmel Medical College students.